Category Archives: Recipes

Meatless Monday: 2 Ingredient French Toast (2 Ways)

applesauce french toast

Mott's Strawberry Applesauce French Toast

And, no, one of those ingredients is not eggs. Or egg substitute.

This is a perfect recipe for days when you wake up wanting a real breakfast but the fact it is snowing in April makes you so adverse to the thought of doing anything that you cannot scrounge up the energy to find more than two ingredients–i.e. yesterday.

Or really just any day.

Yogurt French Toast
makes 1 toast

  • 1/2 6oz. container of yogurt (any flavor)
  • 1 slice bread old bread (or lightly toasted bread)

Applesauce French Toast
makes 1 toast

  • 1/4-1/2c. unsweetened applesauce (any flavor)
  • Spices or seasonings of choice
  • 1 slice bread old bread (or lightly toasted bread)

    →Put the yogurt or applesauce in a shallow container that is wide enough to hold your bread. If your yogurt or applesauce is thick, mix it with enough water to make it the consistency of pancake batter. Add in any spices or seasonings you want.

    Put the bread in the yogurt (or applesauce) and let it soak a little. Flip it over to get the other side.

    bread soaking

    Bread soaking in Cherry Vanilla yogurt

    Spray a small/medium saute pan with nonstick spray. Let it sit on medium heat for a minute (just enough to preheat it).

    Take the bread out of the yogurt or applesauce mixture and put it in the pan. Top with more yogurt (or applesauce). Flip it after about a minute (or when the bottom is brown). If there’s any left, top with some more of the “batter”.

    yogurt toast cooking

    Admittedly, a little too much yogurt on top...

    Once both sides are brown, take it off the pan and eat it while contemplating whether April snow showers will bring May flowers.


    Fun with Gourmet Greens: Arugula

    The produce selection in Michigan these days is a dismal affair: it’s in that in-between stage where boxes brimming with bright berries can only be consumed with longing gazes, but sturdier alternatives like hard winter squashes are nowhere to be found. Perhaps I’m not going to the right places or perhaps I’m just too picky. I am a fairly picky eater, even more so when it comes to produce…I don’t like apples…or oranges…or bananas…or carrots or….

    *awkward silence*

    And I certainly don’t like  spending a lot of money on fruits and vegetables (all the less for other, more gourmet foods, like nuts!).

    Given this, it should come as no surprise that I rarely consume leafy greens other than “standard salad blend,” which, once you’ve had a taste of anything else, becomes boring, mundane and tasteless. This probably explains why it’s the cheapest.

    Arugula–is the exact opposite: sharp-cornered, intense green leaves textured with a pattern of small dots that warn of the peppery blast to come. With personality like that, it is no wonder this sharp leaf costs 5X as much (per ounce) as the hospital-wall white bargain in a bag. You may hear from other (less discerning) foodies that spinach and pepper is an acceptable substitute, but this is akin to swapping green peas with lima beans and sugar. I suppose it depends how you define acceptable.

    My first experience with arugula was actually in England a few years ago, where I fell in love with the sandwiches sold at the chain pharmacy, Boot’s (not with a z like my cat). The sandwich, which featured a simple paring of carrots, hummus and the accurately named “rocket,” quickly became one of my favorites. It wasn’t until I tried to mimic the arugula-spiced sandwich upon my return that I learned “rocket’s” U.S. translation was “expensive”. I tried the recommended spinach and pepper substitute but found the result so distasteful I preferred to do without. And so ended my affair with arugula….

    Until yesterday at Kroger where, out of some inexplicable cosmic irony, I happened upon a (perfectly healthy-looking) box with two labels: one proclaiming the box contained USDA-certified organic baby arugula (a.k.a. rocket, eruca, or “the peppery-est thing your tongue will ever encounter outside of a tiny glass bottle), and the other proclaiming it was 70% off ($1.29).

    I’m sure you can figure out the rest of the story….


    Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad with Balsamic Peppers and Mushrooms
    makes 1 salad

    • Soft goat cheese (typically sold in a log or crumbles)
    • Frozen 3 pepper and onion blend
    • Sliced mini bella mushrooms (or portabella mushrooms you slice yourself)
    • Balsamic vinegar
    • Minced garlic (or its lazier cousin, garlic powder)
    • A few pinches each sage and dried rosemary leaves (optional)
    • and, of course…..arugula

    →In a small/medium saute pan greased with nonstick spray, “saute” the mushrooms, 3 pepper blend and garlic (if using minced). Near the end of cooking, add the vinegar and spices. Set aside.

    Put the arugula in a salad bowl. Top with crumbled goat cheese. Toss on the (still slightly warm) peppers and mushrooms. If you want, drizzle with a little extra balsamic to create a “dressing” (for those that don’t like the idea of “dry” salad).

    Eat slowly, savoring each peppery bite.

    Meatless Monday: Calcium-Rich, Cow-Free Chocolate Yogurt

    soymilk yogurt

    Remnants of my morning yogurt binge

    To me, a world without yogurt is a woeful world, unimaginably grim and full of longing. If being vegan meant I could never eat yogurt again, I don’t think I would even be able to consider the possibility. Eggs I can easily live without and, milk, I don’t drink very much of, but little 6 oz. cartons of diet yogurt consume most of my food stamps. And that’s not even counting the soft-serve.

    Given the nutritional stats of store-bought soy yogurts, this horrible nightmare could have easily become a reality. But I am lucky to have grown up in a house where making yogurt was not only common, but also free of expensive hardware (I’m still not quite sure what a “yogurt maker” is, but, either way, you don’t need one).

    Yogurt is among the foods most people file under “impossibly hard to make/never going to attempt”. I can’t imagine why, though, seeing as how it’s probably one of the simplest things you can make. Admittedly, there is a lot of luck involved: I’ve been making yogurt since high school and I still have occasions where it doesn’t set.

    A few factors are critical to yogurt making: cleanliness, temperature and cleanliness.

    Really, I can’t stress it enough: the yogurt will not set if anything that touches either the soymilk or the yogurt starter is even the slightest bit dirty. And I don’t mean “crusted” dirty–I mean “microscopic bacteria” dirty. You don’t want any other bacteria to prevent yours from thriving, now do you? (By “yours,” I mean the bacteria we associate with yogurt). Safest bet it to sterilize everything in boiling water, but, for the lazy among us *waves*, a good washing and a little caution will do.

    As for the temperature, you will hear different things. My mother always said that the milk should be on the edge of hot and warm, but nowhere near boiling. It seems to work well enough for me. If you have a thermometer, I believe the official guidelines state 118*F, but, if you don’t, air on the side of “warm” since too hot kills while too cold only slows.



    For my yogurt, I chose to use chocolate Soy Slender because last week (when I made this) was National Chocolate Week and Soy Slender was cheapest at Meijer. I’ve done this with other soymilks before (back when they used to carry my favorite brand) and it’s worked out just the same. Keep in mind, homemade yogurt (soy or otherwise) will never be as thick as store bought yogurt unless you add some kind of thickener to the milk after culturing. Want to know why? Pick up any yogurt container, read the ingredients, and you’ll find out.

    Mostly Fool-Proof Soy (or Dairy) Yogurt

    • CLEAN bowl with lid (metal is best, followed by glass and finally plastic)
    • CLEAN whisk, spoon, fork, knife, whatever (just don’t use your finger)
    • A good-size spoonful yogurt (buy a small container of soy yogurt or regular yogurt labeled with the “active culture” symbol/disclaimer and take a spoon out…if you want to keep it vegan but don’t want the sugar and fat, have someone else eat it :D)
    • Milk/soymilk (any flavor/fat content)

    →Heat the soymilk (milk) to 118*F or till it’s “warm” (118*F is hotter than warm but, if you read the essay-length reasoning above, you’ll see why this is better).

    A Spoonful of Blackberry Yogurt

    Put the yogurt in the bowl and whisk well. Slowly add the soymilk (milk), whisking continuously so as to evenly incorporate the yogurt (yogurt chunks = bad).

    Cover the bowl and incubate. (This is hard for impatient people like me, but don’t check/move the bowl around for at least 4-7 hours depending on your temperatures. JUST LET IT BE!)

    There are a few methods of incubation. You want the temperature to be around 100*F (+/- 20*). If you live in a warm climate where the temperature of the room is 80+, all you have to do is leave the yogurt sitting on the counter (not in direct sunlight).


    Improv Blanket Incubator

    To artificially achieve the same effect, place the bowl in the back of the oven with the light on (DO NOT TURN THE OVEN ON) and close the door. Or place it in the microwave with the light on (once again, DO NOT TURN THE MICROWAVE ON). I don’t like the idea of not being able to use my microwave/oven for a long period of time, so I wrapped the container in my heating blanket and left it on at low power. Seemed to do the trick.

    unstrained yogurt

    Not the most appetizing sight. Straining wasn't optional this time.

    After about 8 hours, you can check to see if the yogurt is done. The longer you leave it, the thicker and more sour it will become. I stopped culturing at about 6 hours because I didn’t want it too sour (it’s chocolate!). You can let it culture for up to 12-14 hours, depending on how you like it.

    DIY strainer

    Who needs cheesecloth?

    To make thicker yogurt, strain it after you’re done culturing. A cheesecloth with a weight over it would be ideal, but I didn’t have one so I put a few coffee filters over a metal can and let gravity do it’s job. Takes longer, but good things come to those who wait, right?


    Chicken Little’s Waffles

    Cinnamon Waffles

    Cinnamon Waffles

    I’ve been researching the feeling I talked about yesterday (WebMD…we all do it). Apparently, it’s called “derealization” and is (or can be) associated with extreme anxiety. God forbid I should just feel “anxious” like everyone else. I skip past panic and go straight to delusional.

    This got me thinking, which probably wasn’t the best idea. When I couldn’t give my stress a concrete name, I began to panic. What if I’m missing something? My mind was racing with the myriad of things I might be forgetting. It felt as if I might be forgetting that someone had told me the world was going to end and I had to save it. Needless to say, I only became more stressed. (The world was ending, people! And I forgot I had to save it!)

    For future reference, if you’re stressed and don’t really know why, it’s probably best to just leave it a mystery for the time being.

    After a several minutes spent hyperventilating, pacing, and panicking, I grabbed a few towels and (being now properly armed for the coming apocalypse) decided to have some waffles.

    And, yes, I have completely lost it. Not quite sure what “it” is, but if there ever was an “it” (or several “its” for that matter), I am now officially without.


    chocolate waffles

    Chocolate waffles with strawberries

    “The World’s Ending so I May as Well Eat Waffles” Waffles
    serves 1 (this is no time to diet! where are your priorities?!)

    • 3T. mashed Fiber One Original Bran (mash it till it has the consistency of flour)
    • 2T. cocoa powder (version 1) or pudding mix (version 2)
    • 1/4 t. + a few pinches baking POWDER
    • 3/8c. TOTAL applesauce + cottage cheese or 3 oz./half a small container yogurt (version 2)
    • Water or milk or soymilk as needed to make it pourable
    • Pinches of seasonings/extracts
    • Sugar or sugar substitute, to taste

    →Mix all the wet ingredients together in a small container/bowl/dish/cup.

    In a different bowl (etc), whisk the fiber one, other flour, baking powder and sugar substitute/seasonings.


    Version 2 after mixing

    Add the contents of the second bowl to the contents of the first (or the first to the contents of the second) and mix well.

    Cook in a WELL-GREASED waffle iron. Top with fruit or other topping of choice.

    waffle iron dripping

    Making a mess

    Don’t bother cleaning. The world’s about to end.


    Cinnamon waffles with apple pie filling

    More Uses for Shredded Broccoli Stalks: Microwave Crackers


    Ready for the microwave

    It is 5:26 pm. Friday, March 25, 2011. Why am I stating these mundane facts, this useless information? It’s the only part of reality I have left. Everything else feels hazy, blurry, wrong somehow….

    I have spent the past 4 days sitting inside my apartment, becoming increasingly disassociated from everything that defines normality. I don’t think I ever sleep anymore, just drift in an out of consciousness. But who am I to say? Perhaps I am asleep right now. It makes me wonder how my cat passes the hours. Alone. With nothing more than the waving trees to gaze at through the window.

    There is deepening sense of…in the pit of my stomach. It escapes a single-word classification, but if I were forced to pick one it would be, quite simply, wrong. Something’s missing, something bad is about to happen, there’s no future for me, what am I going to do with the rest of my days?

    I know it’s no one’s fault but my own. After all, I was the one that wanted this: a semester “off”. I just never realized it would turn into this. This half-life that is becoming increasingly dreamlike.

    Worst of all, I think my my hands are changing color!

    Broccoli-Carrot Crackers
    makes about 7-8 crackers

    crackers 2

    • About 1/4c. broccoli stalks, coarsely grated
    • About 1/4c. carrots, coarsely grated
    • 1/4c. pureed fat-free cottage cheese (or mashed)
    • Spices and seasonings to taste (for these, I used Mrs. Dash + a few pinches of garam masala)

    →Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl.

    Spread thinly on wax paper, parchment paper or, if you’re like me/want to be environmentally-friendly, opened up cereal bags.

    Microwave on high for about 5 minutes, checking every minute or two.


    Meatless Monday: Vegan Sushi


    courtesy of Meatless Monday

    I’m sitting in the chemistry lab right now. Not doing any chemistry, but that’s probably for the best.

    I can’t really think, mainly because the Sri Lank-an kid asked me to play Indian music and so now my computer is blasting “Hindi filmi” songs. How am I supposed to think with Shah Rukh Khan music playing in the background?!

    For anyone following the trend, today is Meatless Monday, which is the main reason I am posting.

    Please excuse the incongruence of the post. Anyone who speaks two languages (or more) might understand the brain confusion that results from writing in one while listening to another. It’s all I can do to not writing in Hindi.

    It’s ironic that today’s meatless (vegan and budget-friendly) recipe is from an entirely different country.


    It's sushi time!

    Easy Vegan Sushi (with and Indian twist)

    makes about 6 rolls (depending on how you cut it)

    • Nori sheets (available in some grocery stores and  most ethnic foods stores)
    • Sushi rice, cooked (I cheated and used the sprouted brown sushi rice I had leftover from an Annie Chun’s meal)
    • Baby corn
    • Sliced mini bella mushrooms
    • Vinegar (I went with a mix of apple cider and red wine)
    • Dipping sauce

    Dipping Sauce

    • Soy sauce
    • A few pinches garam masala
    • Garlic powder or minced garlic cloves
    • Ginger paste or, even better, fresh grated ginger

    →Make the dipping sauce by mixing the ingredients and letting it sit, covered, for at least half an hour or, even better, overnight.

    If you have time, marinate the mushrooms in the vinegar overnight. If not, “quick marinate” them by placing them in a bowl with the vinegar and microwaving for about a minute (covered).

    Place the nori on a clean, dry surface rough side up. If you have a bamboo mat, that’s great, but I didn’t so I put mine on a cutting board.

    Spread the sushi rice evenly over the nori sheet, leaving an inch or two at once end (this will be the “sealing” part). Place the baby corn and “marinated” mushrooms in a thin line across one side of the sushi (the side farthest from the side without rice).

    Roll the sushi and slice it. I would try to explain the rolling process but it was my first time, so I’m not sure I’m qualified. For a step-by-step (with pictures!) on rolling sushi, check out Make My Sushi’s illustrated guide.

    If you’re brave, attempt chopsticks. Or do it Indian-style and get your hands dirty.

    Whoopie Pies for the One I Love

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    Mix ‘n Match Cake (Healthy AND Low-Calorie)

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    Breakfast of Champions: Lemon-Raspberry Parfait

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    I have a confession to make: I’ve been eating a lot of cake/brownies/cookies lately. It makes me feel incredibly guilty, which, from a logical standpoint, doesn’t make much sense. If one were to take into account all the ingredients, they wouldn’t find a single guilt-worthy one. After all, what makes a plate of steamed broccoli “healthier” than pureed steamed broccoli in a cake?

    I suppose it’s more about the psychological connections we have with certain foods. I remember my friend telling me once that, every time he ate something “unhealthy,” he would follow it up with something “healthy” like “broccoli”. Of course, being the kind of person that puts broccoli in my cake, my first question was what he would do if the cake was made out of something “healthy” (like broccoli). Not being one to obsess over every bite of food, he shrugged and let the issue pass, but I haven’t been able to let go of it since.

    Whenever I eat a “healthy” version of a typically “unhealthy” food, my id and superego begin to battle it out in a dialogue reminiscent of the 1930s comedy sketch, “Who’s on First?” It seems neither one can understand the other and neither one cares to try. As a result, I am left guilty and confused about whether or not I should consider my baked goods “unhealthy” or “healthy”.

    I guess the only question that really needs to be answered is why I care so much.

    Things to think about:

    1. How do you define healthy? Is it macronutrient composition? Raw food? Calories? Is it more a “feeling” based on what you associate the food with?
    2. Based on your definition, how do you (or how don’t you) moderate unhealthy vs. healthy foods?
    3. Where would you put a cake made out of broccoli on the spectrum?

    For the parfait:

    • Lemon Cake: Sponge cake seasoned with lemon zest
    • Whipped Cream: Try my version made with sugar-free, fat-free pudding
    • Raspberry Sauce: Mix low-calorie raspberry yogurt with water until it forms a saucy consistency

    Adventures in Molecular Gastronomy: Vegan, Low-Calorie Sponge Cake

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